Altium Designer

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Altium Designer
Initial release2005; 19 years ago (2005)
Stable release
24.4.1[1] / 16 April 2024; 34 days ago (2024-04-16)
Written inDelphi, C#, C++
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows

Altium Designer (AD) is a PCB and electronic design automation software package for printed circuit boards. It is developed by Australian software company Altium Limited. Altium Designer was previously named under the "Protel" brand.


Altium Designer was originally launched in 2005 by Altium, known at the time as Protel Systems Pty Ltd. It has roots back to 1985 when the company launched the DOS-based PCB design tool known as Protel PCB (which later emerged into Autotrax and Easytrax). Originally it was sold only in Australia.[2][3] Protel PCB was marketed internationally by HST Technology since 1986.[3] The product became available in the United States, Canada, and Mexico beginning in 1986, marketed by San Diego-based ACCEL Technologies, Inc. under the name Tango PCB.[3] In 1987, Protel launched the circuit diagram editor Protel Schematic for DOS.

In 1991, Protel released Advanced Schematic and Advanced PCB 1.0 for Windows (1991–1993), followed by Advanced Schematic/PCB 2.x (1993–1995) and 3.x (1995–1998). In 1998, Protel 98 consolidated all components, including Advanced Schematic and Advanced PCB, into a single environment. Protel 99 in 1999 introduced the first integrated 3D visualization of the PCB assembly. It was followed by Protel 99 SE in 2000. Protel DXP was issued in 2003, Protel 2004 in 2004, Altium Designer 6.0 in 2005. Altium Designer version 6.8 from 2007 was the first to offer 3D visualization and clearance checking of PCBs directly within the PCB editor.[citation needed]


Altium Designer's suite encompasses four main functional areas, including schematic capture,[4] 3D PCB design,[5] field-programmable gate array (FPGA) development[6] and release/data management.[7] It integrates with several component distributors for access to manufacturer's data.[8][9] It also has interactive 3D editing of the board and MCAD export to STEP.[10] Altium 365, a cloud-based infrastructure platform, connects all key stakeholders and disciplines for PCB design. This includes mechanical designers, engineers, PCB designers, parts procurement, fabrication, and assembly. Altium 365 hosting allows to find, configure and use parts.

File formats[edit]

Altium Schematic Editor
Filename extension
Developed byAltium Limited
Type of formatBinary, ASCII[11]
Altium PCB Editor
Filename extension
Developed byAltium Limited
Type of formatBinary, ASCII[11]

Altium Designer supports import & export of various PCB and CAD data exchange file formats.[11][12] The tool's native file formats are the binary file formats *.SchDoc and *.PcbDoc.

Altium Designer is capable to import and export AutoCAD *.dwg/*.dxf and ISO STEP file formats.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Public Release Notes for Altium Designer".
  2. ^ "Nick Martin .:". Archived from the original on 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  3. ^ a b c TangoPCB. Tango-PCB 3.12. ACCEL Technologies, Inc. 1987-12-01 [1986]. It was originally written in 1985 by Nick Martin, of Australia, and sold under the name of PROTEL-PCB. In 1986, ACCEL Technologies, Inc., of San Diego, California, acquired marketing and support responsibilities for the product in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. […] The reference manual was re-written for the American market. ACCEL markets the product under the name Tango-PCB.
  4. ^ "The Ultimate PCB Design Software Comparison | SFCircuits". Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  5. ^ Moretto, Gabe (2007-11-26). "Altium releases 3D PCB visualization".
  6. ^ Holland, Colin (2010-05-25). "Aldec FPGA simulation added to Altium Designer". EE Times.
  7. ^ "Altium announces new publishing and version control capabilities". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
  8. ^ "CAD links to disty databases gain momentum". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  9. ^ "Altium releases 3D PCB visualization". EE Times. Retrieved 2010-09-06.
  10. ^ a b c d "Interfacing to Other Design Tools from Altium Designer | Altium Designer 22 User Manual | Documentation". Retrieved 2022-11-25.
  11. ^ "Altium Design Software Import-Export Support | Altium Designer 22 User Manual | Documentation". Retrieved 2022-11-25.

External links[edit]